Tag Archives: snack

Snack, crackle and pop, pop, pop!

8 Jun

I don’t get why our cinemas don’t serve salty popcorn! They used to … about ten years ago but all we have now is the sweet caramel flakes. Urrrgh. If that’s not discrimination, I don’t know what is? Not everyone has a sweet tooth after all.

Anyway, no use complaining as popping popcorn at home is easier than frying an egg … I  mean seriously. And it’s a lot cheaper than buying a carton at the cinemas. Since I watch a lot of movies at home (my DVD collection is insane), I can have my salted popcorn at the (home) movies anytime I wish.

It takes less than fifteen minutes from start to finish and it could take about the same time to polish off  a bucketful of the salty flakes. What you need? A medium sized sauce pan with a lid; 3 tbsp vegetable oil; butter (melted); salt and black pepper and corn kernels (of course: be sure not to get the ones for the microwave!).

Heat the oil in the saucepan and add a couple of kernals and cover the saucpan. When you hear the kernals pop (its loud enough, don’t worry), fill the saucepan with about 1/3 cup kernels (there should just be a thin layer of kernals at the base of the pan). Cover and let them pop, pop and pop; shaking the pan from time to time.

When the popping stops, remove from fire immediately. The hot oil in the pan will work on the  kernels that have yet to pop.

Melt butter and add salt. Pour the melter butter over the popcorn, sprinkle some pepper and toss to coat it as evenly as possible.

Now,  as easy as it is, there are a few things to look out for.

* Don’t let the oil heat up too much —  you’ll end up with partially popped kernels with hard centers.

* Not too low heat either as you will end up with some  entirely unpopped kernels

* Not too many kernels in a pan. Just one layer at the base of a saucepan.

* Pop them with oil, not butter unless burnt is your flavour of choice!

If you are more adventurous and like sweet or unusual seasonings for your popcorn, visit Marty Tyme‘s blog. For our recent Don’t Call Me Chef coloum (a monthly food column I co produce with Marty and The Hungry Catterpiller in The Star) Marty tried three flavours of popcorn which  were interesting to say the least. She even made a trail-mix pop corn! That Marty …

Snack attack: Part III. Onion rings, Indian style.

4 Jun

Ever heard of the Awesome Blossom a.k.a Blooming Onion a.k.a Onion Blossom? Well, commonly found in American establishments (diners and steakhouses commonly serve them), this onion dish originally used the Vidalia onion, a large sweet onion. The onion is cut to resemble a flower, breaded and deep fried. As you can imagine, it’s oily and naturally,  loaded with calories.

A relative of the bloom is the onion ring which is kinder to the arteries. Though fried, onion rings aren’t necessarily deep fried. Pan-frying with an inch or two of oil will suffice.  Western recipes for onion rings call for the onions (cut in rings, hence the name) to be coated in white flour or cornmeal. Seasoning is mainly salt or sometimes garlic salt. New York Times columnist Mark Bittman dips his onions in milk and then flour and proceeds to fry them  in olive oil. Some recipes call for the rings to be breaded. Others mix some baking powder in a flour batter for puffy rings.

While these rings are pretty nifty, I prefer the Indian version of the onion ring called the onion Bhajee. The concept is the same but the batter has a lot more kick in it. Instead of plain white flour, the Bhajee employs gram flour (that’s chickpea flour by the way) mxed with a little rice flour and chilli powder. I used about a cup of gram flour, 1 tbsp rice flour, 3/4 tbsp chilli powder. Oh, you also need a pinch of asofoetida. Finely chopped green chillies and curry leaves (and sometimes parsley) are also added. The dry mix is mixed with enough water to form a thick batter.

The onion rings are then coated generously with the batter (just chuck them into the bowl with the batter and mix them with your hands, ensuring they’re well and truly bathed in the batter).  Heat oil to about 180C and fry the battered rings till they’re golden. Drain and enjoy.

Indian snacks use gram flour a lot and not just as a batter. The Bonda, for example, is a fried flour ball that’s made primarily of gram flour. Once again, mix the gram flour with some rice flour, chilli powder and asafoetida. Add finely chopped chilli, finely chopped spinach (lightly sauteed, just about 2 tbsp) and curry leaves (finely chopped also) and add just enough water to allow you to make little  dough balls.

Again, heat about an inch of oil in a skillet and when hot, drop the dough balls (uneven shapes are customary!) into the oil and fry till golden.

Both the onion bhajee and the bonda are snacks, usually tea time snacks. Because of the gram flour, they’re quite filling. The bonda is best eaten with a coconut chutney (a southern Indian dip/sauce) while the onion bhajee is usually eaten with a mint chutney.

To top is off, have some lovely Indian spice tea (masala tea) and you’ll have a nice smile on your face. I guarantee.